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English house museum Kettle's Yard to sell donated collection to raise funds

Group of 29 works left by John Ady is hoped to make around £35,000 for the Cambridge gallery when it sells at Cheffins auction house this month

The Small Gate Painting 4 (1980) by Prunella Clough from the John Ady collection Courtesy of Cheffins

Kettle’s Yard House and Gallery in Cambridge, UK, is to sell off a collection of 20th-century works of art left to the museum by local landscape architect John Ady in 2019. The collection of 29 works is hoped to raise around £35,000 for the gallery when it sells at Cheffins auction house in Cambridge on 25 February.

These works are not being deaccessioned, a Cheffins spokesperson says, as they have never entered the collection: "The Ady collection was left to Kettle’s Yard with the understanding that any works not acquired into the permanent collection would be sold to benefit Kettle’s Yard. The works for sale have not been accessioned into the Kettle’s Yard collection." Andrew Nairne, the director of Kettle’s Yard, says the gallery relies on legacies like these to "enable us to care for the Kettle’s Yard House and collection, make special exhibitions, commission artists and composers, engage with local communities and organise activities for children and young people.”

Ady was born in Cambridge in 1931 and in 1958, after living in the US, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, he met Jim Ede, the founder of Kettle’s Yard. It was the start of a lifelong friendship and Ady became an ardent collector of abstract artists, becoming close with several artists including the painter John Blackburn.

Seven works by Blackburn are included in the sale, alongside a painting by Paul Feiler (Horizontal Yellow, 1964, est. £12,000-£18,000) and Prunella Clough (The Small Gate Painting 4, 1980, est. £4,000-£6,000).

In the same auction, Kettle’s Yard will sell off a collection of six original and signed prints which were left to the gallery by the artist Alan Reynolds (1926-2014), including a facsimile by Georges Braque (est. £300-£500) and an etching by Sonia Delaunay (est. £700-£1,000).